More than a year after a 180-foot wooden ship sank in turbulent waters during Superstorm Sandy, the National Transportation Safety Board has released a 16-page report finding the captain and owner responsible for the accident that killed two and seriously injured three.
The captain and a crewmember were killed and three other sailors seriously wounded when the HMS Bounty went down off the coast of North Carolina last October.
The Bounty, a replica of an 18th-century sailing ship built for Marlon Brando’s “Mutiny on the Bounty” in 1962, embarked on its voyage from New London the evening of Oct. 25, 2012. It was bound for St. Petersburg, Fla.
According to the NTSB report, the captain’s “reckless decision to sail into the well-forecasted path of Hurricane Sandy” was to blame to for the ship’s sinking about 90 miles off the coast of Hatteras, N.C. Winds that night reached 100 mph.
Crew members had expressed concerns to the captain prior to departure, but the captain assured them the ship could handle rough waters, according to the NTSB. A month before the crash, the captain apparently told a Maine television station that the Bounty “chased hurricanes” and that sailors could use hurricane winds to their advantage.
The captain was lost at sea after the ship sank and was presumed dead. A crewmember was also killed, his body recovered about 10 hours after the Coast Guard sent a helicopter to rescue the sailors. The Coast Guard saved 14 other crewmembers from thrashing 18-foot waves. Three were seriously injured, according to the NTSB.
The Bounty underwent repairs in Maine just prior to its departure in New London. According to the NTSB, the maintenance was “accomplished by a crew with little experience in such specialized work.”
Additionally, the HMS Bounty Organization, LLC, which owned the ship, “did nothing to dissuade the captain from sailing into known severe weather conditions,” the NTSB said.
The report finds that a lack of oversight contributed to the ship’s sinking.